March 23, 2005


They may be continents apart, but Mugabe blames Blair for everything: Bemused voters find that the British leader is dominating the Zimbabwean election (Xan Rice, 3/24/05, Times of London)

FORGET about education. Forget about job creation, even though unemployment is running at 80 per cent. The 2005 parliamentary election in Zimbabwe is all about the threat posed by a middle-aged man living thousands of miles away.

President Mugabe, who since 2000 has made no secret of his contempt for Britain, has dubbed next week’s vote the “anti-Blair election”. Demonisation of the Prime Minister has become the central platform of the ruling Zanu (PF) party’s campaign.

Yesterday on page 3 of the government-run Herald newspaper, the country’s biggest, a full-page advertisement declared: “Bury Blair, Vote Zanu PF.” In bullet points, the British Prime Minister was blamed for everything from “racist factory closures” to “politically motivated price increases” and sanctions.

Nearly every Zanu (PF) campaign speech contains angry references to Mr Blair, whom Mr Mugabe accuses of financing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

“It’s like Tony Blair is having to fight an election campaign on two fronts — in Britain and here,” Andrew Moyse, project co-ordinator for Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, said.

The bizarre campaign has many urban voters perplexed. Foster, a security guard in Harare who did not want to give his full name for fear of reprisals, said: “Why is he talking about Blair when people are starving in this country?” Primrose, a young professional, said: “This has to be one of the most irrelevant platforms ever.” Munya, who owns an IT company, said the focus on Blair was “ nonsense propaganda”.

But Zanu (PF)’s campaign is designed to woo, or rather scare, rural voters by suggesting that if the opposition wins, Zimbabwe will became a de facto colony of Britain once more, and that land will be returned to white farmers. In a rally near the South African border on Tuesday, President Mugabe told the crowd: “Our heritage needs to be protected from neocolonialists like Blair.”

Boy, Mr. Mugabe doesn't know his people at all, huh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2005 10:30 PM

Given all those low-lifes who despise Tony Blair, one really has to admire the man.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 24, 2005 7:14 AM

Mugabe is simply running on the same platform that has enabled him to be victorious in the past. He continues to get the support of the ANC while he does so, and that is what matters because he needs South African dinero to pay for voter intimidation and fraud.

Posted by: bart at March 24, 2005 10:01 AM

He's never won before.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2005 10:09 AM

He's the guy with the Presidential sash. That sure looks like winning to me. He may use methods that would have shamed LBJ and Dick Daley in the 1960 Presidential election, but it still counts as a win nonetheless.

Posted by: bart at March 24, 2005 10:56 AM

Ah, but it has nothing to do with winning on a platform as you erroneously stated.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2005 11:35 AM

It is not the vote of Zimbabweans that matters, but the vote of the ANC Politburo. His platform has been successful in appealing to them and that is the important thing.

Posted by: bart at March 24, 2005 11:48 AM

Which has nothing to do with your error.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2005 11:50 AM

What error?

Mugabe wins. He gets to be President. Whether he does it through an honest election or through bribery and intimidation makes no difference. His policy positions and demagoguery get him South African money so that he can engage in fraud, intimidation and vote buying. As long as the ANC is willing to give him bucks, he wins. So long as he keeps blaming Whitey for everything, he continues to get the support of the 'One Settler. One Bullet.' crowd that run South Africa today.

Posted by: bart at March 24, 2005 5:28 PM

Yes, so it actually has nothing to do with a platform. It's just brute power.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2005 5:33 PM